In the five months since WrestleMania 28, Sheamus hasn't seemed genuinely challenged for his World Heavyweight Championship—and with his next defence being a third match against Alberto Del Rio at Night of Champions, this doesn't show much sign of changing. But is it possible his reign could continue all the way through to WrestleMania 29?
In recent years there has been a trend against long world title reigns in the WWE, a trend currently being bucked by CM Punk, whose near 300-day title reign is the longest since 2007. With this record being actively mentioned regularly, it has passed under many people's radars that Sheamus himself is now the longest-reigning holder of the Big Gold Belt since Batista in 2005.
If, like me, you're surprised by Sheamus' relatively long reign because it doesn't feel like that long, I think there are reasons for this.
Sheamus has the feel of a placeholder champion. Despite being booked strongly, I get the impression that he's keeping the title warm until someone the company really wants to run with comes along. The simple reason for this is how few people have challenged for the title. Excepting the fatal-four-way contenders at Over the Limit, only Daniel Bryan (in his rematch), Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio have challenged Sheamus for the championship in singles competition.
We have no reason to believe Del Rio could win their next title match, firstly because Sheamus has decisively defeated him already and secondly because a rematch would follow—and it's hard to believe the WWE would give over a third of the year's World Heavyweight Championship pay-per-view matches to such a poorly received feud.
There are several options as to who Sheamus could face after Del Rio. Much rumoured is a feud with the soon to be returning Wade Barrett. Other possibilities could include a proper program with Randy Orton, or perhaps with a returning Mark Henry. Should Sheamus come out on top in a feud against such credible opposition, it would be a clear indication that the WWE is committed to his title reign.
Should Sheamus stay champion until WrestleMania 29?
One issue that's played a big part in the shortness of title reigns in recent years is Money in the Bank.
With Dolph Ziggler having already faced Sheamus for the title at No Way Out, it seems unlikely he would cash in on the Great White, thus triggering a rematch—nor is there any chance of a failed cash in as (unlike John Cena) Ziggler is exactly the kind of briefcase recipient the concept is designed for, and a further failed cash in would render both of this year's ladder matches pointless in retrospect. Therefore, there would have to be a change of champion before Ziggler's inevitable cash in. While there would still be three months to cash in after WrestleMania, this would be unusually late.
So, could Sheamus remain World Heavyweight Champion until WrestleMania 29? Depending how high-quality his next opponent after Del Rio is, if he goes over them then it's a good indication the company is committed to him—and there would be every chance he could reign until the next Showcase of the Immortals.